In the early 1960s, the Nashville music business was essentially a brotherhood: most artists were far from stardom but a safe distance from abject poverty, and everyone seemed to know one another and spend a good deal of time together. Exclusive offices and aloof secretaries were unheard-of on this southern fringe of the national music industry.
But that innocent - and naive - scenario changed significantly in the mid-'60s.
Perhaps it was the rapid development of the Nashville Sound or the rise of rock 'n roll that drove Nashville to become one vast office building. In either case, country music submitted to the financial sway of big business, and the city's new commercial, middle-of-the-road establishment left little room for "outlaws and hillbillies" like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser, Jessi Colter, Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, Jimmy Buffet and others. So, where were these artists to find refuge? You guessed it: 916 19th Avenue South, the current home of Compass Records.
A New York writer dubbed the place "Hillbilly Central" in 1974 because the aforementioned figureheads of Nashville's outlaw crowd were likely to be found here at one time or another. Tompall Glaser (previously of the Glaser brothers) housed the eminent Baron Publishing here, and unlike his market-minded counterparts a few blocks over on Music Row, he allowed creative experimentation to thrive in the studio.
Over 30 years later, 916 19th Avenue South attracts its fair share of 21st-century outlaws. Just attend a Colin Hay concert, and you'll quickly acknowledge the truth of this claim.
Aereoplane - John Hartford
Dreaming My Dreams - Waylon Jennings
Wanted: The Outlaws - Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser
Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show - Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
Stolen Moments - Alison Brown
Cold Spell - Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver - Special Consensus
They Called It Music - The Gibson Brothers
On Down the Line - Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper